Ultimate Cinque Terre Guide

In order to make planning your next trip here easy, here is our Ultimate guide through Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre was one of our favorite coastal destinations in our entire European trip!  Good food, beautiful towns, sun and sea, what more can you ask for?  Cinque Terre is a National Park on Italy’s western coast.  It is almost entirely made for tourism.  It is incredibly easy to get from one town to the next, and each village is designed primarily for walking, enhancing the experience.  We absolutely recommend making this part of Italy a priority on your next trip! 

Getting to Cinque Terre

Making your way to cinque terre is very easy.  Rome to cinque terre, Florence to Cinque terre and Milan to Cinque terre are routes that are quick and easy via train.  It is also possible to travel by coach bus using Flixbus.  We used them a lot during our travels in Italy and we had mostly very good experiences.  If you take the train to Cinque terre, it will drop you off at the La Spezia station.  While that is not technically part of the Cinque Terre, it is where you will buy your tickets into Cinque terre.  Cinque terre has its own regional train system that runs through the 5 towns as well as the two neighboring towns of La Spezia and Levanto.  From La spezia, you will need to buy a regional bus pass that will allow you to travel between the different towns are often as you please.  These were the regional train pass prices when we visited in high season:

1-day: 16 euros

2-day: 29 euros

3-day: 41 euros

Where to stay in Cinque Terre

When we visited Cinque Terre we stayed in Levanto, which is the first town outside of the national park and the last village included in the regional bus pass.  That meant that with the same train pass we used to move through the national park, we were also able to get back home in the evening.  Staying just outside of Cinque Terre is much more budget-friendly and equally as accessible.  If it is within your budget to stay inside the national park, our recommendation would be to stay either in Monterosso Al Mare since it has the beach, or in Riomaggiore since it is the most affordable of the towns.

Cinque Terre Villages

Monterosso Al Mare

Monterosso Al Mare is the largest of the five villages and it is the only one that has a nice sandy beach.  The beach is lined with lounge chairs and the promenade behind the beach is full of restaurants, gelaterias and places to shop.  The beach itself is beautiful and the water is nice and calm, perfect for playing in the small waves and cooling down on a hot summer day.  Be prepared for all the beach vendors selling blankets, scarves, dresses, sunglasses and pretty much anything else you can sell. We spent almost a full day enjoying the sun and the sea and of course, lots of gelato!  Monterosso al Mare is the most laid-back of towns since most people are spending their time here on the beach.  The town itself doesn’t have as much to see as the other four, the beach really is the star of the show.

Vernazza

Vernazza is simply breathtaking.  It’s an incredibly colorful town that offers an amazing view from the trekking trail right above it.  It is pretty small but you can still spend hours taking in the views and wondering the narrow streets.  This is also where we had some of the best gelato in all of Italy!  If you are a photography enthusiast, Vernazza will not disappoint.

Corniglia

This is the only town we did not visit during our stay.  From the pictures we saw it is just as beautiful as the other ones.  It is the only one that does not have direct access to the water since it is located on a high cliff.  I am sure you can get some pretty spectacular views from up there!

Manarola

Manarola was our favorite of the five towns.  Is it just as beautiful as Vernazza in our opinion, but has a lot more to offer for those seeking a bit of adrenaline.  If you enjoy some cliff jumping, this is the town for you!  Right in front of the beautiful pastel colored buildings, you have a few cliffs that have been turned into the perfect spot for those who need something a bit more adventurous to fill their days.  The cliffs have different sizes and shapes, and ladders have been added to facilitate getting in and out of the water.  It really is the perfect place for some ocean fun, and it turned out to be our favorite sunset spot in Cinque Terre!

Riomaggiore

The fifth and last town of Cinque Terre is a beautiful U-shaped village surrounding a small harbour. This town’s structure is wonderfully simple as it is pretty much just one long street from start to finish. Along this street, you’ll find dozens of restaurants with different price options, classic Italian markets, and places to grab a drink and watch the sunset. There is also a lovely rock line that surrounds the harbour that make amazing front row seats to watch the horizon in the evening.

Cinque Terre hiking trails

Although we did not buy the pass for the hiking trails, we have heard that they are absolutely amazing!  When we were there, they had had some rain so most of the trails were either closed or had some parts that were restricted.  If you have the chance to do them when they are in good condition, we definitely recommend you give them a try!  Considering how beautiful the coastline is, the trails are most likely breathtaking.  One thing to keep in mind, the train pass to access the national park does not include the hiking trails.  You have to buy a separate trekking card in order to have access to the trails.  This pass was 7.5 euros per day when we were there.  Another important thing to note, there are people monitoring the trails for safety reasons, and you will not be allowed to access them if you do not have closed-toe shoes so make sure to bring a pair with you! 

Cinque Terre food

Let’s be real, this is Italy, the food is always amazing!  Cinque terre does have its own specialty which is Trofie pasta with a pesto sauce.  Pesto is commonly grown in this part of the country because of the favorable climate and it would be a big mistake to skip out on it!  We also had some great pizza and outstanding gelato! After all, eating your way through Italy is the only way to truly experience this amazing country!

We hope you have enjoyed our Cinque Terre guide!

Lots of Love,

Ben and Bianca

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